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Homeland security officer arrested after raid Government was seeking illegal aliens recruited to work for prostitution ring

When federal agents raided local massage parlors last month, they were shocked to find a Department of Homeland Security law enforcement officer's gun and uniform in an apartment linked to one of the parlors.

That officer -- David J. Wolkiewicz, 51 -- appeared before a federal magistrate judge Tuesday, and court papers indicated that he has admitted that he helped run a parlor where prostitution allegedly took place.

Prosecutors said Wolkiewicz, an officer with U.S. Customs & Border Protection, has admitted assisting the operator of the Asian Acupressure Therapy parlor at 7500 Porter Road, Town of Niagara.

Wolkiewicz, who has been suspended from duty, was charged last week with lying to government agents.

According to court papers, the federal officer's uniform, name plate and gun were found on March 26, when federal agents raided a Porter Road apartment of a massage parlor employee.

When agents confronted him that day at a nearby location, he admitted that he was involved in a romantic relationship with a woman who ran the parlor but initially stated that he provided "no financial support or other assistance" to the business.

But later, authorities said, Wolkiewicz admitted that he:

* Sometimes drove women who he believed were prostitutes between the parlor and Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

* Once delivered a gym bag from the woman who ran the parlor to another woman at a casino in Niagara Falls, Ont. Wolkiewicz said he believed the gym bag contained sneakers and clothing.

* Once delivered a package from the same Ontario casino to the woman who ran the parlor. That package included about 10 smaller foil packages. Wolkiewicz said he believed the foil packages contained cosmetics, and he did not declare them when he transported them over the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge into the United States.

* Did maintenance and repair work at the massage parlor, including changing a shower head, fixing a whirlpool and repairing light fixtures.

* Placed advertisements for the massage parlor in local newspapers.

* Got a Sam's Club card for the massage parlor, and the card had his photograph on it.

"Wolkiewicz also stated that he tried to distance himself from the prostitution establishment, that he attempted to encourage [the operator] to run a legitimate business," Robert M. Vanderbles, an agent with the homeland security inspector general's office, said in court papers.

The papers were filed by William J. Hochul Jr., chief of the national security division at the U.S. attorney's office in Buffalo. Hochul declined to comment, except to confirm what was stated in the documents.

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents raided eight massage parlors in Erie and Niagara counties on March 26, following a lengthy investigation into claims that illegal aliens were being recruited to work as prostitutes at the parlors.

Fourteen people have been charged so far in what authorities call a major human trafficking investigation. Yong Mei Shi, the woman identified in court papers as having a relationship with Wolkiewicz, was arrested during the raids on charges of harboring illegal aliens.

Wolkiewicz and one of his attorneys, Ellen Poch, appeared briefly Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy, who allowed the federal officer to remain free without bail.

A plea of not guilty has been entered by Wolkiewicz. Poch said she had no comment on the allegations.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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